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tv   PBS News Hour Weekend  PBS  March 4, 2017 5:30pm-6:01pm PST

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captioning sponsored by wnet >> sreenivasan: on this edition for saturday, march 4: president trump takes to twitter to accuse president obama of wiretapping him during the election; the conflict in yemen-- why is the united states military expanding its role?; and citizen videographers document innovative solutions to make large cities more sustainable. next on pbs newshour weekend. >> pbs newshour weekend is made possible by: bernard and irene schwartz. judy and josh weston. the cheryl and philip milstein family. the john and helen glessner family trust-- supporting trustworthy journalism that informs and inspires. sue and edgar wachenheim, iii. barbara hope zuckerberg. corporate funding is provided
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by mutual of america-- designing customized individual and group retirement products. that's why we're your retirement company. additional support has been provided by: and by the corporation for public broadcasting, and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. from the tisch wnet studios at lincoln center in new york, hari sreenivasan. >> sreenivasan: good evening, and thanks for joining us. it has been a long week for the trump white house. attorney general jeff sessions recused himself from any justice department investigation into russia's possible interference with the recent u.s. election due to his involvement in then- candidate trump's campaign. mr. trump began the morning on twitter defending the attorney general and his first meeting with russia's ambassador to the u.s., saying it was set up by the obama administration, then claimed in his words: "just out: the same russian ambassador that met jeff sessions visited the
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obama white house 22 times and four times last year alone." the defense of sessions was followed quickly by an extraordinary barrage of accusations against his predecessor, barack obama. offering no evidence, president trump accused president obama of tapping his phones at trump tower during the campaign, claiming: "nothing found. this is mccarthyism!" mr. trump went on to ask: "is it legal for a sitting president to be wire tapping a race for president prior to an election? a new low!" then another, saying: "i'd bet a good lawyer could make a great case out of the fact that president obama was tapping my phones in october, just prior to election!" then, finally: "how low has president obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process. this is nixon/watergate." mr. trump ends the tweet by calling mr. obama a "bad or sick guy!"
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kevin lewis, a spokesman for former president obama, said in a statement: "a cardinal rule of the obama administration was that no white house official ever interfered with any independent investigation led by the department of justice. as part of that practice, neither president obama nor any white house official ever ordered surveillance on any u.s. citizen. any suggestion otherwise is simply false." ben rhodes, a former top national security advisor to president obama, flatly denied mr. trump's charges, tweeting:" no president can order a wiretap. those restrictions were put in place to protect citizens from people like you." house democratic leader nancy pelosi, also in a tweet, said in part: "the deflector-in-chief is at it again." small groups of supporters of president donald trump held rallies across the nation today from palm beach, florida, near president trump's estate, to a state park near philadelphia. more than a hundred people gathered to show support at the
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washington monument in the nation's capital, and others rallied outside trump tower in new york city. rallies were planned in 31 states, according to the organizers' web site. the trump administration reportedly will propose a 17% cut in funding for the national oceanic and atmospheric e "washington post" says it obtained a copy of a four-page memo from the white house office of management and budget calling for sharp reductions in noaa's satellite data division and other research areas. the memo also proposes dramatic cuts in funding for restoration initiatives such as a cleanup effort in the great lakes, the world's largest freshwater system. on tuesday the trump administration is expected to announce roll backs of strict federal regulations on the auto industry that curb vehicle pollution. the "new york times" reports that environmental protection agency chief scott pruitt and transportation secretary elaine chao will make a joint announcement relaxing restrictions on tailpipe carbon dioxide emissions. the restrictions were instituted under the obama administration to promote the development and building of electric and hybrid cars. the action would not require
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congressional approval. in iraq, the u.n.'s world health organization said today at least 12 people, including five children, are being treated for symptoms of exposure to chemical agents. this during the ongoing battle to retake mosul from islamic state militants. the victims are being treated in a hospital in nearby irbil. if confirmed, the u.n. said use of these weapons would constitute a war crime. the u.n. did not say which side may have used the chemical weapons, but isis is alleged to have used them dozens of times in iraq and syria. officials say all the victims are expected to recover. in somalia, the prime minister says at least 110 people have died of hunger in the past 48 hours. the somali government last tuesday declared the country's ongoing drought a national disaster. the drought is believed to have affected some 1.5 million somalis, including more than 400,000 children. the u.n. included somalia as one of four countries singled out for a $4.4 billion aid appeal last month to avert widespread
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famine. >> sreenivasan: the american military is ramping up operations in the war-torn country of yemen, where a saudi- led coalition of mostly sunni countries supports yemen's president against shiite houthi rebels. the u.s. is also allied with the saudis and yemen's president. since thursday, u.s. warplanes have carried out more than 30 air strikes in yemen using aircraft and drones to target the islamic militant group al qaeda in the arabian peninsula. this follows the january 29 special forces raid on the group in yemen that killed navy seal ryan owens and several dozen yemenis. for more analysis of the u.s. role in yemen, i am joined by from washington by gordon lubold, a reporter for the "wall street journal." 4 why this sudden interest in yemen? i think the interest began with
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the u.s. military prior to president trump taking office in january. the proposal had been kind of in the workses, but the obama administration had decided to allow mr. trump to make the decisions about how to proceed in yemen. as you know, a.q.a.p. is seen really-- and the pentagon would tell you-- is potentially even more of a threat to the u.s. homeland than islamic state is. so these proposals were kind of under way, and then mr. trump acted on them, essentially granting the pentagon broader authority to go after a.q.a.p. in yemen. >> sreenivasan: it seems like there are almost two wars going on-- the saudis and iranians fighting each other as the proxy war, there's the houthi rebels and so forth. and then there's this fight against al qaeda in the arabian peninsula. >> a defense official was explaining yesterday kind of a civil war within a civil war. but what the u.s. is really concerned with primarily is
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fighting a.q.a.p. in central yemen and along the coastal yemen. that includes the area where the january 29 raid was. there's about maybe upwards of 3,000 known al qaeda fighters in this area, so the idea is to kind of-- somebody in the pentagon said kind of get after it, but use indigenous forces and emrawties and saudis to do it. u.s. forces are kind of-- they're involved on the ground. the pentagon's loathe to kind of acknowledge that, but there is some presence there. but they don't appear to be doing a lot of ground combat right now. >> sreenivasan: did anybody from the pentagon says that the intelligence gathered from the raid on january 29 is contributing to any of these air strikes? >> right, they actually made a point of saying the intelligence from that raid did not driv drie these strikes over the last few
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days. they're kind of separate and distinct. that intelligence gathered there, they're still assessing it, and these targets that have been hit the last couple, few days, were also entrained prior to the 29th raid. so, really not. >> sreenivasan: basically, the al qaeda and the arabian peninsula has flourished in the middle of this active war. >> the chaos in that country, you know, kind of breeds the terrorism that u.s. allies are concerned about, and it's, you know, obviously a very poor country, large youth bulge, as they say, not a lot of water, resources. it's kind of ripe for growing terrorism, and i think that what we're seeing and why we're seeing this now is, you know, the trump administration has a desire to accelerate the fight against the islamic state, but
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really also other militant groups, and this one, as i say, is seen as potentially manufacture a threat to the american homeland. >> sreenivasan: all right, gordon lubold joining us from the "wall street journal," thanks so much. >> thank you. >> sreenivasan: around the world, there is a migration toward cities. a new documentary short film looks at innovative ways some of these cities are trying to solve the problems that come with growth. the film is called "the future of cities," and much of the footage in the film was contributed by an army of citizen videographers. newshour weekend's ivette feliciano sat down with the filmmaker. >> reporter: 50% of the world's population live in urban areas, but that will grow to 70% by the year 2050, according to the united nations. today, there are 31 mega-cities, metropolitan areas with more than ten million people: tokyo,
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delhi, shanghai, mexico city, sao paolo, cairo. by 2030, the u.n. predicts there will be 41. as the number of city dwellers rises, so do problems like overcrowding, pollution, housing shortages and aging infrastructure like mass transit and highways. >> so, is future urbanization going to be a good thing or a bad thing? if you care about people, this is the defining question of our time. >> reporter: in his new mini- documentary, "the future of cities," new york-based director oscar boyson stepped out of the commercial film and tv world to explore what governments, communities and everyday people around the globe are doing to make increasing density in their cities sustainable for the future. what were the central problems that you were trying to address? >> cities can get a bad name as far as being dirty or contributing to congestion, carbon output, et cetera.
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but what people often don't think about is that when we all are packed in living in dense quarters, there's so much to gain. we're using that as an opportunity to innovate more, exchange more ideas, use energy more efficiently, use water more efficiently, right? and let's look at examples of how we're using density and doing it right, and how that's actually the best, if not the only way to save the planet. >> reporter: in partnership with the nantucket project-- an ideas incubator that hosts a ted talk- like yearly conference focused on innovations-- and a private investor, boyson set out to show sustainability projects in transportation, energy and water use that can be replicated all over the world from countries as varied as iceland... >> geothermal energy power plant! >> reporter: ...and peru. >> this is a fog catcher, and it can catch up to 500 liters of water a day. >> reporter: boyson put out a
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global call for ideas on youtube... >> hi, oscar. nice meeting you over the internet. >> reporter: ...and received more than 1,300 responses from 75 countries. many who sent boyson ideas agreed to serve as tour guides and videographers during his three-week-long shoot in 16 cities. other participants sent him video they'd filmed on their own. >> this is lucas. we met on youtube >> reporter: this man in santiago, chile, introduced boyson to an electric rickshaw that residents can ride for free. so, how did you go about meeting these people? >> i'd never met a stranger on the internet. i'd never done anything like that. >> you're very trusting to just hop in my car. and i'm going to take you somewhere in a country you've never been. >> i would show up, and somebody who'd emailed me would meet me at the airport. d sometimes they were a professional camera operator or someone who works in media, and other times they were just somebody who wanted to hang out
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and talk or show me parts of the city that they find interesting. >> reporter: over the course of two weeks, boyson traveled all over the world to places like chile, new zealand, mumbai and copenhagen. >> and i think part of the deal was, "hey, if you help me with this video while i'm in your city, i'm going to really take the time with the incredible editing team that helped me to make something you're going to be proud of." >> reporter: in south korea, boyson visited what urban planners call the world's firs"" smart-city," songdo. this high-tech real estate has been built during the past 15 years on mud flats filled with sand at the edge of the yellow sea. sensors monitor the city's energy use, traffic flow and waste management system that sends trash and recycling through underground tunnels to waste processing centers. and he also went to smaller projects in the developing world like the cities in nigeria, pakistan and the philippines,
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embracing homegrown solutions to its climate change-related problems. >> flooding is an issue in makoko, so they built a school that floats by using cheap and available materials. this woman turns discarded plastic into bricks in karachi. in manila, they turn water bottles into solar light bulbs. >> reporter: boyson also studied american cities. he met resident abess makki in detroit, where the city's debt crisis caused water shutoffs in 2014. makki created city water, a phone app that allows residents to monitor their water usage in real time or report leaks. >> we're no silicon valley, but we're trying to become a city that brings tools and brings solutions and brings jobs back. >> reporter: in los angeles, boyson found one man using his solar panels and atmospheric generators to extract clean drinking water from humid air. >> every building ideally can make it's own water and be water self-reliant. >> reporter: then, there is the problem traffic and the air pollution it causes. instead of building larger
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highways to accommodate more cars, boyson found seoul, south korea, and shenzhen, china, have replaced old highways with public thoroughfares that have bike paths and greenways. in singapore, where 80% of the population lives in subsidized high-rise housing, the government charges citizens higher taxes for the social costs of car ownership, caps car leases to ten years and also plans to build carless city. >> obviously, so much of 20th century, mega-cities were built around the car, to service the car, which we're learning is not necessarily the best thing for people, whether that's air pollution or people getting hit by cars or running large highways through neighborhoods. >> reporter: boyson wasn't able to include all of the innovative projects into his initial mini- documentary, like one of his favorite submissions from medellin, colombia, which built a greenbelt that surrounds the city to benefit residents who have been pushed to the outskirts of the city by gentrification.
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>> and it's giving the people the furthest away from the center of the city this place that will produce jobs, but also shared public space, shared green space. so, i love that idea. >> reporter: since posting the" future of cities" to the internet in december, boyson continues to receive unsolicited videos, and he aims to produce a series of small films. you say in the film that the people that you met are the ones that gave you the most hope for the future. why is that? >> i'd get off a plane, and i'm with somebody who's donating their time and their energy to show me around their city. and their perspective, their energy, their effort is informed just by love and interest, right? so, the point of view that they're sharing with me is totally about a citizen. if i hire a production services company in one of these cities, they're going to show me what they think i want to see. so, to have this very pure relationship with the city that
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i was seeing was really inspiring and a real reminder that cities are about people. they're not about buildings, they're not about cars. people have always made the difference. and feeling that again and again, whether it was someone i met in person or just corresponded with over the internet, was very inspiring. >> sreenivasan: the pop up magazine project is turning journalism into a series of live performances. read more on www.pbs.org/newshour. >> sreenivasan: this week, federal communications commission chairman ajit pai outlined a list of proposals on the table for consideration at the agency's meeting later this month including: blocking of robocalls, which are the number one complaint from consumers; ending the use of cell phones in prisons; reforming cell service to give providers more flexibility in providing broadband to customers; and improving the video relay service, a tool used by the deaf to communicate using sign language joining me from washington to discuss the f.c.c. agenda and possible policy changes is"
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washington post" reporter brian fung. brian, let's start with the positive. the level of transparency and exactly what's going to be coming up at the meeting, that's kind of good news for all the people affected by it to kind of line up and speak their mines. >> absolutely. the f.c.c. previously didn't have to release the full text of any decision it made before it actually made it. now, under ajit pai, that policy has changed so the public can actually see what the commission is going to vote on before that actually happens. >> sreenivasan: there's also been a lot of talk about how many steps ajit pai is going to be taking to roll back some of the things that his predecessor, tom wheeler, put in place, especially when it comes to net neutrality. give us the background. >> all of these items that are taking place on this month's agenda are kind of coming under the shadow of this big effort that many people in washington expect to happen surrounded net neutrality and broadband privacy, these rules that the
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f.c.c., under pai's predecessor, tom wheeler, passed in order to impose new rules on internet providers. now, these rules that were passed were pretty controversial at the time. although, many consumer advocates say that they were necessary to preserve a free and open internet. but republicans, such as pai, have criticized the rule saying this is an example of governor over-reach and will depress internet provider investments in their networks. >> sreenivasan: so some of the concerns that consumer groups have is whether or not there will be a fast lane and a slow lane. that was the fear, right, if telecom companies are able to strike different partnerships, they can provide certain piece of content better, which means other pieces of content might not come up so fast when you search for them. >> that's right. now, in some cases, some internet providers have committed not to doing that, but the fear among consumer advocates is that, you know, some internet providers may not be disclosing certain new business models that cold potentially harm consumers.
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and the rules are generally attempt to address those potential harms by giving the government the power to investigate and go after companies that are thinking about or introducing some of these programs and there was also some concern about the privacy rules that went into place about, you know, right now, my cell phone provider pretty much knows exactly where i am. they know lots and lots of things about me. whether or not they should be able to sell some of that data, even if it's anonymized, to make a profit. >> exactly. so some of the rules that were passed under the wheeler tenure involved these privacy rules that are basically designed to prevent internet providers from abution the data that they collect on customers like you and me. and so all of the rules that were built by the f.c.c. to address privacy are aimed at preventing internet providers from abusing that level of information that they have on you. but under ajit pai, some of those rules are likely to be rolled back. in fact, the f.c.c. has already
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issued a partial stay of a certain slice of the rules that govern how internet providers must protect the data that they have on you to prevent that from falling into the hands of hackers, for instance. now, the rules more broadly have subject to a petition by industry to have-- to be rolled back. but the f.c.c. has still yet to vote on that overall petition. >> sreenivasan: all right brian fung of the "washington post," thanks so much. >> my pleasure. >> has backed out of tonight's prestigious dinner given by the gridiron club, an organization the russian embassy gave no reason. president trump sent his regrets
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a few days ago. however, vice president mike pence will attend, as will house democratic leader nancy pelosi. that's all for this edition of pbs newshour weekend. thanks for watching. i'm hari sreenivasan. have a good night. captioning sponsored by wnet captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org >> pbs newshour weekend is made possible by: bernard and irene schwartz. judy and josh weston. the cheryl and philip milstein family. the john and helen glessner family trust-- supporting trustworthy journalism that informs and inspires. sue and edgar wachenheim, iii. barbara hope zuckerberg. corporate funding is provided by mutual of america-- designing customized individual and group retirement products. that's why we're your retirement company. additional support has been provided by: and by the corporation for
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public broadcasting, and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you.
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